Kevin Systrom: Finding the Problem is the Hard Part | Summary and Q&A

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May 31, 2011
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Stanford eCorner
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Kevin Systrom: Finding the Problem is the Hard Part

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Summary

In this video, the speaker discusses the importance of finding the right problem to solve and how this can be more challenging than finding the solution itself. They explain that solutions to problems often come easily, but identifying the problem to solve requires careful consideration. The speaker shares their experience with Instagram and how they identified the top three problems people face with mobile photos, which helped them focus on developing a solution. They also emphasize the need to quickly test and verify the problems and solutions with potential users. Lastly, they highlight the value of simple solutions to simple problems and how these can have a significant impact.

Questions & Answers

Q: What is the hardest part when it comes to problem-solving?

Finding the solution to the problem is actually the hardest part. Many people assume that once they understand the problem, they will be able to easily find a solution. However, it often turns out that the real challenge lies in identifying the problem itself.

Q: How did the speaker approach problem-solving when working on Instagram?

The speaker and their team took a deliberate approach to problem-solving when developing Instagram. They started by listing the top five problems people have with mobile photos and circled the top three. These problems included mobile photos not looking great, uploads on mobile phones taking a long time, and the desire to share photos across multiple platforms. By focusing on these problems, they were able to determine the solution they wanted to build.

Q: How did the speaker verify that the identified problems were the ones people had?

To verify their hypothesis about the problems people have, the speaker emphasizes the importance of getting the product in front of people as quickly as possible. This allows for testing and gathering feedback to determine if the identified problems align with the actual needs and frustrations of potential users.

Q: Why is it valuable to have simple solutions to simple problems?

The speaker discusses the misconception that complex problems require complex solutions. They argue that simple solutions to simple problems can be just as effective, if not more so. Simple solutions have the potential to delight users and satisfy their needs. Additionally, simplicity allows for scalability and can lead to widespread adoption and success.

Q: How did Instagram's initial success validate the importance of tackling simple problems?

When Instagram gained 20,000 new users in a single day, it became clear that there was a significant need for the solution they provided. This confirmed that focusing on simple problems and delivering a simple yet delightful solution can have a substantial impact in attracting and satisfying users.

Q: What is the speaker's perspective on the perception that the hardest problems are the most rewarding?

The speaker challenges the notion that the hardest problems are always the most rewarding. They argue that simple problems can become very challenging at scale, and the process of bringing a simple solution to a large audience can be highly rewarding. They highlight that the goal doesn't always have to be a big hairy audacious one, as finding a simple solution that delights the masses can be equally valuable and challenging.

Takeaways

The speaker emphasizes the importance of finding the right problem to solve, as this is often more challenging than finding the solution itself. They suggest listing and prioritizing the problems people face, and then quickly testing and verifying these problems with potential users. The speaker also highlights the value of simple solutions to simple problems, as they can delight users and have a significant impact. They encourage entrepreneurs not to underestimate the power of simple solutions and the challenges they can bring when scaling to a large audience.

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